More than 100 deaf and dumb persons in Nigeria staged a peaceful protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday, over alleged illegal acquisition of 20 acres from 39 acres of their land by the Oyo State Government.
National Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Christian Mission for the Deaf, Mr. Silas Ike, led the protesters to the Governor’s Office, Agodi, Ibadan. He said the mission bought the 39 acres in 2004, with a view to building a university for the deaf, which would be the first of its kind in Africa.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions, which included: ‘We need more than 39 acres for the proposed university,’ Please, do not oppress the deaf,’ ‘Do not resettle people on our land, and ‘We bought our land with donations from people.’
The inscriptions also included: ‘The deaf has rights to live better life,’ ‘We need our land for school,’ ‘Oyo State Government should not forcefully occupy the deaf land,’ ‘We need our land for vocational training and deaf university,’ and ‘The deaf are helpless, please ooo.’
In his reaction, Commissioner for Land and Housing, Mr. Isaac Omodewu, who addressed the protesters after receiving a letter of protest from them, assured the mission that he will meet the governor on the matter.
He said the governor was outside the state and that was why he could not make arrangement for their representatives to meet the governor in person.
“I will let him (the governor) know. I assure you that within the next one week, you will hear from us,” he said.
But, a top official of the ministry was very unfriendly with journalists who covered the protest and asked who invited or authorised them to take pictures of the protest.
Speaking with journalists after the protest, Ike described the action of the Omodewu as “good enough for us, at least, somebody is listening to us.” He said the many letters which had been written by the mission to the Commissioner for Land and Housing from 2016 to 2018 did not, purportedly, get to the commissioner, even though they were submitted in the Ministry of Land and Housing.
He said: “We are here because we got the information that Oyo State government wants to take over our land. The government wants to acquire the land we bought along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“We bought the land in 2004, and the total land we bought then was 39 acres. Our intention for acquiring the land is to transfer our nursery, primary, secondary and technical schools to the place.
“We also intend to build a university for the deaf on the land. The university we are thinking of building for the deaf is going to be the first of its kind in the whole of Africa.”